Applying for an ABN
You can apply for an ABN online at the Australian Business Registry and the process usually takes around 15 minutes if you have all the necessary information.
If you’re applying as a Sole Trader getting your ABN is really straightforward. You’ll need documents to prove your identity, your Tax File Number (TFN) and details of the services you intend to provide.
There are of course services that can do all the hard work for you and set up your ABN (and anything else you might need). For example, Easy Companies will get you an ABN in 2 minutes for less than $50 AUD. Not bad!
Is it related to my Tax File Number?
A TFN and an ABN are separate unique numbers, every person in Australia requires a TFN to complete an annual tax return. A person only requires an ABN if they are going to start a business.
However if you are a Sole Trader your ABN will be linked to your TFN. This is because as a Sole Trader your business is the same legal entity as yourself (unlike a registered company). So any money you earn through your ABN by issuing invoices to your clients forms your taxable income which you’ll declare in your annual tax return.
Registering a business name
A business name or trading name is the name which a business trades under. You only need to register a business name if you want to trade under a different name than your actual name. For example trading as “Jane Smith” doesn’t require registration. However, trading as “Jane Smith Website Design” does.
You can register your business name here on ASIC. Again it takes about 15 minutes to complete. There are fees involved to register your name, it’s $34 for one year and $79 for three years registration.